I'd posted to the forum a while back looking for a cheap D hole guitar that I could take with me on my upcoming trips to India (http://www.lukehill.com/travel/going-to-india/
), and after some feedback from some of you, I ended up with a Cigano GJ-15 from here at Djangobooks (http://shoppingcart.djangobooks.com/gui ... GJ-15.html
). I told some folks that I'd be sure to post my impressions of the guitar once I'd had a chance to try it out, so here we go...
First, I was really impressed by the build quality. The guitar has a matte finish (which actually looks pretty cool to my eyes) and seems very well put together. The hardware (specifically the tuners, the nut and the tailpiece) look and feel a bit cheap, but certainly not out of line with what you'd expect from an entry level guitar like this, and they all work just fine. The neck is a bit wider than what I'm used to (which, in my experience is pretty standard with the short scale D hole guitars), but not as wide as some that I've played, and whilst the increased neck width is taking me just a little time to adjust to, it's not so wide that I feel like I'm straining to play it. The frets are all nice and high and the intonation on this thing was more-or-less spot on right out of the box.
So it plays well and it looks good... but how does it sound? Well, overall I think it sounds pretty good. It's got a very loud, full-bodied sound with plenty of presence. It can sound nice and 'crispy' when playing rhythm with it. It does have a bit more string buzz than I'm accustomed to (especially on the low E), but not enough to be an issue when playing rhythm. For single note and solo work, the guitar is a mixed bag. It's got the shorter scale neck, so you lose a couple of frets (not a big deal, just takes some getting used to). The added volume and presence that this guitar brings over my Gallato petite bouche is nice, but the amount of overtones that the guitar produces (due, I'm guessing, to that big D hole) make it better suited to rhythm playing than solo work, which is exactly what I'd expect from a guitar like this. The overtones aren't over-the-top or anything, and can be managed a bit with careful playing, but something to be aware of...
I have to say, I hadn't had my hands on a Saga-made guitar in many years before I got this one, but I'm really impressed with how far they've come in both looks and sound and build quality. For a beginner or someone looking for an inexpensive rhythm guitar, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it, and I'll go even further and say that it could easily do the job for a real gig in the hands of a talented rhythm player. I'll be spending 4 months in India with the Cigano this year, and I'll be looking forward to seeing how the guitar holds up to a variety of playing and traveling situations.
In the meantime, I posted a quick and dirty video of the guitar in action, strung up with some fresh Argentine reds:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku7Q95eoQYg
The audio is just a straight feed from my camera with no EQ, etc. and it sounds pretty faithful to what the guitar sounds like in person. If you're interested in hearing it used for something different, I went ahead and used the GJ-15 to record a sample of one of my new original songs as well:http://www.lukehill.com/music/new-song- ... -paradise/